Robin van Donkersgoed
In 1994 I visited Tanzania for a month and in 1995 sponsored a hearing aid mission carried out by Shubi Foundation, an organization from Holland. I also went along with the team of 6 people to see what the organization was doing in Tanzania. During this journey we visited 8 schools and deaf units and installed solar energy in several schools and carried out Audiometry and hearing aid fitting.
One of these schools was Kigwe Deaf Unit located in Kigwe, a small village 40km outside of Dodoma. During the visit it was apparent to me that the children did not even have basic facilities like safe drinking water, therefore hearing aids did not seem the most suitable support for these children. It was then that I discussed with the head teacher of the Kigwe Deaf Unit the possibilities to help build water tanks for rainwater harvesting for the kids.
During November and December 1996 I went back to Tanzania and we installed a complete 50,000 liter rainwater harvesting system within six weeks. The project was blessed by rain after the day of completion and netted us over 3,000 liters of drinking water within one night of rain.
During this project I became further touched by the situation of deaf children in Tanzania and inspired to set up a vocational training program specific for deaf children. In 1997, I wrote out this program in and implemented it from that year until 2002 in the village of Kigwe. For this purpose, Jenta Sluijmers (a Speech & Language Specialist ) and I discussed the need for a fundraising platform where donations could be made and thus EOTAS Foundation was founded. Until the year 2000 all the activities were funded by me privately and from 2000 onwards we started receiving funds from Dutch donors. During the last few years it became apparent that the Kigwe program had no sustainability due to lack of cooperation from teachers and authorities.
Following this lack of cooperation, I then got the inspiration to set up a preschool in Dodoma, the capital city of Tanzania which became the basis for the currently operational Dodoma Deaf School. This now has 70 deaf kids all attending normal primary education under the Tanzanian curriculum.